Cook on a Whim: Dreamy Orange Pound Cake

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Dreamy orange pound cake. Photo by Anita Parris Soule, Courtesy Cook on a Whim.

One of the most wonderful things about this season is the vast array of winter citrus fruits: blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges, tangelos, mandarins, clementines, satsumas (with the leaves still attached if you’re really lucky). So, so many and they are all so special. Blood oranges and Cara Caras are probably my favorites, but I truly love them all.

One morning, I woke up thinking about orange pound cake. Maybe I was dreaming about it (it’s pretty darn dreamy). If you’ve ever had an Orange Julius or a Dreamsicle, imagine that taste in cake form. The tart orange/sweet vanilla combo … are you imagining it?

Okay, that’s why I woke up thinking about this pound cake. Happily, I had plenty of oranges to work with, and goodness knows I had butter, flour and sugar. With a few more pantry staples gathered, I whipped up my dreamy cakes.

After baking my beauties, I sent a picture of them, still warm from the oven, to a friend and wrote, “Orange pound cake, on a whim!”

The reply was, “You’re the only person I know who makes orange pound cake on a whim!” Can you blame me?

Feel free to use whatever orange variety you have. I’ve been meaning to make a blood orange version of this cake, which would have the prettiest pink hue. Grapefruit would be very good, too.

Dreamy Orange Pound Cake 

Ingredients

2 sticks of very soft butter

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs at room temperature

Zest from 5 oranges

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon regular fine salt)

1/2 cup full-fat Greek yogurt or sour cream

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two loaf pans (I use the butter wrappers for this). Next, cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy — about 5 minutes on medium-high speed. Then, with mixer on low, add eggs one at a time(ish) and orange zest. Scrape down sides.

Combine dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda) in a bowl. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine yogurt (or buttermilk), vanilla and orange juice and whisk to combine. With the mixer on low, add the wet and dry mixtures alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. (I used to think this was an unnecessary, fancy cake-baking step, but it really makes a difference … don’t ask me why.)

Don’t overmix. Remove paddle attachment and give the batter a good top-to-bottom mix with a rubber spatula, then divide evenly between the two pans.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour while you enjoy the buttery orange- and vanilla-scented aroma floating through your house. When your cakes are done, a toothpick will come out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool slightly in pans, and enjoy!

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